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charlotte_asia

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  1. Upvote
    charlotte_asia got a reaction from bktz in Need advice regarding International Affairs and/or Intelligence Studies   
    Maybe try to use your technical expertise to wiggle my way into the field to explore it before plunging headfirst into an MA in a field you've never worked in before.

    There are lots of places where digital arts/film/production could intersect with international relations. The easiest that comes to mind is lending your expertise to NGOs like WITNESS, ENOUGH project, the UN, which use film for advocacy, human rights protection, etc. Almost all organizations link up with producers/digital arts folks at some point or another to create 25th anniversary videos, advocacy projects, and the like. Just go to idealist.org for some initial ideas.

    Alternatively, there are lots of initiatives overseas that work with emerging filmmakers in developing countries. Maybe take a year and go work with them? Many filmmakers are socially engaged, using their skills to address social justice or policy issues in their country. Collaborating with them could help you build an understanding and experience between your technical background and your possible future career.

    Once you have a bit of experience working on international relations issues you may be able to work your way into the program/IR side of things. I know people with computer programming or other hard technical backgrounds who have done this in the human rights world- start out as an organization's IT person and then manage their way onto the human rights program side of things.

    A few years of experience in this capacity- working with international actors on international issues- and you could be a great candidate to apply to the Foreign Service (who has people from an incredibly diverse range of backgrounds) as a public affairs officer.... or doing media work for the UN or some similar multilateral organization. I think you have a great hard skill set that could be welcomed in the international development, and possibly international relations, world.

    Regarding intelligence work, I'm not so sure how easy a career change would be. My friends who landed intelligence/security/defense jobs right out of undergrad (Analyst jobs at the Agency, security consulting companies, security/defense think tanks, certain positions at State) did so with related bachelors degrees and internships. I do have friends with very unrelated backgrounds who broke into defense work through a few years of unglamorous defense contracting work. You could possibly, maybe, potentially do the latter with a lot of networking, and a few years doing pretty boring, unglamorous work for Raytheon or some other big contractor before working your way in. But is that really want you want to do?

    It sounds like you want to do what most people *think* a diplomat does . I think you could work your way into the Foreign Service, though I'll admit, as the fiancee of an FSO, it's not as glamorous as most people think, except at the really high levels. Still, it's a really interesting, fulfilling line of work that you could feasibly break into. Lots of FSOs are on their second or third career.

    Anyway, all this to say I think you could definitely make a career change, but I would make the career change and then SEE if you NEED an MA... not go for the MA and see what jobs you could get (likely very few, if you had no relevant experience). Use your technical expertise in film production/digital arts to your advantage- your comparative advantage. I imagine NGOs, public affairs branches of institutions would love it.

    Good luck!
  2. Upvote
    charlotte_asia got a reaction from elohelay in MPA/MPP/IR 2012 Applicants   
    I disagree a bit in that the self profiles posted on GradCafe over the past three years (and yes, I admit I have read most of them in the thumb-twiddling between January 15 and now) all rave about their SOPs. I have seen a lot of self-evaluations rate themselves "meh" while others flat out admit they left their SOP to the last minute, wrote the same one for each school, never really felt like they had a firm handle on it, etc.

    That said, I think the bell curve is legitimately shifted to the right for GradCafers, folks who may (may, not definitely) put more time into the application process and thus may solicit more feedback, create more drafts, and read more samples of strong SOPs distributed by schools' admissions blogs than the average applicant.

    And many of these self-assessed strong SOP writers on GradCafe have been quite helpful. I see posters with mediocre grades and GREs, good but not amazing work experience, who get into top schools. They cite their SOPs as extremely strong and list the reasons why. These posts have been quite valuable to me.

    All this said, does inflation still occur? Of course. I think surveys repeatedly show that 80% of the population rates themselves as "above average" drivers.
  3. Upvote
    charlotte_asia got a reaction from MYRNIST in Security Clearance for U.S. Foreign Service Officers   
    Echoing what others have said: having family in Pakistan or other sensitive country is not going to bar you in and of itself from a security clearance. I know Pakistani-Americans and Kashmiri-Americans who were born overseas, naturalized, and received clearances. I also know FSOs with family members with records or run-ins with the law who have obtained clearances.

    It certainly will take some time. One thing you can do in the meantime is start gathering all your old addresses, contacts, references, their contact info, etc. e-Quip (the form you fill out for your clearance) is dozens of pages long and asks for extensive information. Getting all of that in place now could help when you quickly turn around your e-Quip and start the clearance process.

    Your critical language skills (by advance intermediate I'm guessing that's a 2+ or a 3 on the language scale?) are certainly going to give you a bump on the waitlist if you pass your orals. In other words, you will receive extra language points over someone who just knows Spanish. Like FSOonthego said though, it doesn't impact your security clearance.

    The FS really values diversity, so you could be quite an asset to the Department. It would be worth applying, if that's really what you want to do.
  4. Upvote
    charlotte_asia got a reaction from carlisle in Need advice regarding International Affairs and/or Intelligence Studies   
    Maybe try to use your technical expertise to wiggle my way into the field to explore it before plunging headfirst into an MA in a field you've never worked in before.

    There are lots of places where digital arts/film/production could intersect with international relations. The easiest that comes to mind is lending your expertise to NGOs like WITNESS, ENOUGH project, the UN, which use film for advocacy, human rights protection, etc. Almost all organizations link up with producers/digital arts folks at some point or another to create 25th anniversary videos, advocacy projects, and the like. Just go to idealist.org for some initial ideas.

    Alternatively, there are lots of initiatives overseas that work with emerging filmmakers in developing countries. Maybe take a year and go work with them? Many filmmakers are socially engaged, using their skills to address social justice or policy issues in their country. Collaborating with them could help you build an understanding and experience between your technical background and your possible future career.

    Once you have a bit of experience working on international relations issues you may be able to work your way into the program/IR side of things. I know people with computer programming or other hard technical backgrounds who have done this in the human rights world- start out as an organization's IT person and then manage their way onto the human rights program side of things.

    A few years of experience in this capacity- working with international actors on international issues- and you could be a great candidate to apply to the Foreign Service (who has people from an incredibly diverse range of backgrounds) as a public affairs officer.... or doing media work for the UN or some similar multilateral organization. I think you have a great hard skill set that could be welcomed in the international development, and possibly international relations, world.

    Regarding intelligence work, I'm not so sure how easy a career change would be. My friends who landed intelligence/security/defense jobs right out of undergrad (Analyst jobs at the Agency, security consulting companies, security/defense think tanks, certain positions at State) did so with related bachelors degrees and internships. I do have friends with very unrelated backgrounds who broke into defense work through a few years of unglamorous defense contracting work. You could possibly, maybe, potentially do the latter with a lot of networking, and a few years doing pretty boring, unglamorous work for Raytheon or some other big contractor before working your way in. But is that really want you want to do?

    It sounds like you want to do what most people *think* a diplomat does . I think you could work your way into the Foreign Service, though I'll admit, as the fiancee of an FSO, it's not as glamorous as most people think, except at the really high levels. Still, it's a really interesting, fulfilling line of work that you could feasibly break into. Lots of FSOs are on their second or third career.

    Anyway, all this to say I think you could definitely make a career change, but I would make the career change and then SEE if you NEED an MA... not go for the MA and see what jobs you could get (likely very few, if you had no relevant experience). Use your technical expertise in film production/digital arts to your advantage- your comparative advantage. I imagine NGOs, public affairs branches of institutions would love it.

    Good luck!
  5. Upvote
    charlotte_asia got a reaction from MYRNIST in Need advice regarding International Affairs and/or Intelligence Studies   
    Admission to a program is only half the battle. Getting out with no experience in the field and competing with other MA in Int'l Affairs/PP degree holders would be quite difficult. (JAubrey, I think this is what you are referring to when you're talking about being competitive in the field of IC/defense?)

    Which is why I think the OP would need to work her way in laterally (and slowly), and using her technical production/film/digital arts background to get a foothold in the field. I absolutely think it's doable, especially by connecting in with ngos/international orgs who use film for advocacy purposes. This could build expertise in IR work, and be a stepping stone to a diplomatic career. (Not so sure about moving into defense/intelligence work and how that could be done).

    I guess I still stand by the work first-pursue degree path that I suggested in my first post. Career change is completely possible, but I don't know why folks are always so eager to do so through schooling, not work experience.

    ETA: See my above post for a more fulsome explanation of how I think the transition could work. I have seen it done by people in the computer programming field.
  6. Upvote
    charlotte_asia got a reaction from MYRNIST in Need advice regarding International Affairs and/or Intelligence Studies   
    Maybe try to use your technical expertise to wiggle my way into the field to explore it before plunging headfirst into an MA in a field you've never worked in before.

    There are lots of places where digital arts/film/production could intersect with international relations. The easiest that comes to mind is lending your expertise to NGOs like WITNESS, ENOUGH project, the UN, which use film for advocacy, human rights protection, etc. Almost all organizations link up with producers/digital arts folks at some point or another to create 25th anniversary videos, advocacy projects, and the like. Just go to idealist.org for some initial ideas.

    Alternatively, there are lots of initiatives overseas that work with emerging filmmakers in developing countries. Maybe take a year and go work with them? Many filmmakers are socially engaged, using their skills to address social justice or policy issues in their country. Collaborating with them could help you build an understanding and experience between your technical background and your possible future career.

    Once you have a bit of experience working on international relations issues you may be able to work your way into the program/IR side of things. I know people with computer programming or other hard technical backgrounds who have done this in the human rights world- start out as an organization's IT person and then manage their way onto the human rights program side of things.

    A few years of experience in this capacity- working with international actors on international issues- and you could be a great candidate to apply to the Foreign Service (who has people from an incredibly diverse range of backgrounds) as a public affairs officer.... or doing media work for the UN or some similar multilateral organization. I think you have a great hard skill set that could be welcomed in the international development, and possibly international relations, world.

    Regarding intelligence work, I'm not so sure how easy a career change would be. My friends who landed intelligence/security/defense jobs right out of undergrad (Analyst jobs at the Agency, security consulting companies, security/defense think tanks, certain positions at State) did so with related bachelors degrees and internships. I do have friends with very unrelated backgrounds who broke into defense work through a few years of unglamorous defense contracting work. You could possibly, maybe, potentially do the latter with a lot of networking, and a few years doing pretty boring, unglamorous work for Raytheon or some other big contractor before working your way in. But is that really want you want to do?

    It sounds like you want to do what most people *think* a diplomat does . I think you could work your way into the Foreign Service, though I'll admit, as the fiancee of an FSO, it's not as glamorous as most people think, except at the really high levels. Still, it's a really interesting, fulfilling line of work that you could feasibly break into. Lots of FSOs are on their second or third career.

    Anyway, all this to say I think you could definitely make a career change, but I would make the career change and then SEE if you NEED an MA... not go for the MA and see what jobs you could get (likely very few, if you had no relevant experience). Use your technical expertise in film production/digital arts to your advantage- your comparative advantage. I imagine NGOs, public affairs branches of institutions would love it.

    Good luck!
  7. Upvote
    charlotte_asia got a reaction from JAubrey in Need advice regarding International Affairs and/or Intelligence Studies   
    Admission to a program is only half the battle. Getting out with no experience in the field and competing with other MA in Int'l Affairs/PP degree holders would be quite difficult. (JAubrey, I think this is what you are referring to when you're talking about being competitive in the field of IC/defense?)

    Which is why I think the OP would need to work her way in laterally (and slowly), and using her technical production/film/digital arts background to get a foothold in the field. I absolutely think it's doable, especially by connecting in with ngos/international orgs who use film for advocacy purposes. This could build expertise in IR work, and be a stepping stone to a diplomatic career. (Not so sure about moving into defense/intelligence work and how that could be done).

    I guess I still stand by the work first-pursue degree path that I suggested in my first post. Career change is completely possible, but I don't know why folks are always so eager to do so through schooling, not work experience.

    ETA: See my above post for a more fulsome explanation of how I think the transition could work. I have seen it done by people in the computer programming field.
  8. Upvote
    charlotte_asia reacted to cckrspnl56 in Need advice regarding International Affairs and/or Intelligence Studies   
    I'd just like to say that I disagree with essentially everything the above poster said, with some caveats.

    As a current student, I can without hesitation that the most interesting students that I've come to know are the ones who come from different disciplines simply because they are able to provide a perspective that is otherwise lacking. They are able to glean from the lectures and the readings information that pass by me because my experiences and my training have been so different. The benefit of grad school is the breadth and the diversity of students -- is your learning experience honestly enhanced by sitting in a classroom where half the students just graduated from the Ivy League and can recite Thucydides and Waltz?


    That being said, you need to be able to show a demonstrated interest in intelligence/strategic studies and that this isn't just a pipe dream caused by a midlife crisis. Regardless of what people tell you, there is nothing wrong with having an "epiphany" moment -- but now you have to work towards that goal. Take a political economy or intro to IR class at a local college (or even online) to show the Adcoms that you are able to translate your natural skill/intelligence to a new field. There are plenty of applicants every year who come from a background of computer science / information technology, and they are just as competitive as the rest.

    Also, being in your late 20s is not a "relatively advanced age."
  9. Upvote
    charlotte_asia got a reaction from DualCitizenIR in Wrapping It All Up: Government Affairs 2012 -- Final Decisions!   
    Previous Schools: Top 10 LAC
    Previous Degrees and GPAs: BA Political Science & South Asian Studies, 3.38 (3.6 last 2 years)
    GRE Scores (Verbal/Quantitative/Analytical Writing): 690/640/4.5
    Previous Work Experience (Years, Type): 4 years when entering school this fall, 3.5 when applying. 2 years overseas. .5 years in microfinance internship in Asia, 2 years permanent position at democracy NGO in DC, 1.5 years consulting for democracy groups in Asia
    Math/Econ Background: Intro to Econ (pass/failed it- pass), Methods/Statistics of Political Science (B+), Principles of Micro (A), Principles of Macro (A)-- last two were at night school at The Graduate School in DC.
    Foreign Language Background (if applicable to your program): Intermediate Spanish
    Intended Field of Study in Grad School: Democracy and governance policy and programming
    Long Term Professional Goals: USAID Governance Foreign Service Officer, think tanks on DG work, etc.
    Schools Applied to & Results: WWS (Rejected), Tufts Fletcher, American SIS, Johns Hopkins SAIS, Georgetown Government, GWU Elliot (All Accepted)
    Ultimate Decision & Why: Johns Hopkins SAIS!! I wanted to go to Georgetown Government since I was an undergrad, so I am still in a bit of shock with my decision to turn down that acceptance. Ultimately I realized I wanted to be more on the policy side of things rather than the theory side of the democracy field. Plus, SAIS's resource, career services, student morale and cohesiveness are one of the absolute best in the country. The Government program was very small, only a few years old, with far fewer resources than SAIS or other Georgetown programs. Whereas larger schools like Fletcher, Elliot, and SAIS sent lots of informaiton, held online chats, provided clear and helpful financial aid info, I felt I had to squeeze it out of Georgetown. This is understandable for a small program, but I realized that's not what I wanted for the next two years. Lastly, even though I would love to study democracy all day long, the broader degree and curriculum at SAIS would be advantageous for future careers should foreign aid continue to be put on the chopping block.
    Advice for Future Applicants:
    - Work Experience. I would say really focus on the WORK part of that phrase. Volunteering is good, teaching English in a foreign country is good, interning is good, but try to secure a full-time, staff position with increasing responsibility and promotions before you go to grad school. You will be able to speak articulately about your field and you will increase your chances of acceptance. If you are moving to DC after undergrad graduation, the job market is tough- take an unpaid internship (I did without financial support of my parents, worked in a coffee shop for 3 months while interning), or an admin job sort-of related to your field to get a foot in the door. You'll work your way up quickly. Others may disagree, but I really think there is no substitute for working in a full-time permanent position.
    - International experience. Get you some! No, study abroad doesn't count, everyone has that
    - SOPs. A lot of people say to write about your goals + their school = where you want to be, but I took a slightly different approach. I included analysis of the democracy landscape through an illustrative anecdote, what needed improving, and how I needed a degree from THEIR school to positively effect that change. I emphasized why I wanted them, not just a general IR degree, and why they should invest in *me*. I think this underscored my understanding of my sector beyond just 'I want to do this work' and that I really understood what made them and their degree unique
    - GREs. Nail them. I didn't put enough time into it and wish I had. They could have helped with scholarship money and definitely put me on the edge because of my fine-but-not-amazing GPA.

    Thanks to everyone at Grad Cafe for your sage advice and support over the past few months. I am so grateful! Good luck to future applicants
  10. Upvote
    charlotte_asia got a reaction from MYRNIST in Wrapping It All Up: Government Affairs 2012 -- Final Decisions!   
    Previous Schools: Top 10 LAC
    Previous Degrees and GPAs: BA Political Science & South Asian Studies, 3.38 (3.6 last 2 years)
    GRE Scores (Verbal/Quantitative/Analytical Writing): 690/640/4.5
    Previous Work Experience (Years, Type): 4 years when entering school this fall, 3.5 when applying. 2 years overseas. .5 years in microfinance internship in Asia, 2 years permanent position at democracy NGO in DC, 1.5 years consulting for democracy groups in Asia
    Math/Econ Background: Intro to Econ (pass/failed it- pass), Methods/Statistics of Political Science (B+), Principles of Micro (A), Principles of Macro (A)-- last two were at night school at The Graduate School in DC.
    Foreign Language Background (if applicable to your program): Intermediate Spanish
    Intended Field of Study in Grad School: Democracy and governance policy and programming
    Long Term Professional Goals: USAID Governance Foreign Service Officer, think tanks on DG work, etc.
    Schools Applied to & Results: WWS (Rejected), Tufts Fletcher, American SIS, Johns Hopkins SAIS, Georgetown Government, GWU Elliot (All Accepted)
    Ultimate Decision & Why: Johns Hopkins SAIS!! I wanted to go to Georgetown Government since I was an undergrad, so I am still in a bit of shock with my decision to turn down that acceptance. Ultimately I realized I wanted to be more on the policy side of things rather than the theory side of the democracy field. Plus, SAIS's resource, career services, student morale and cohesiveness are one of the absolute best in the country. The Government program was very small, only a few years old, with far fewer resources than SAIS or other Georgetown programs. Whereas larger schools like Fletcher, Elliot, and SAIS sent lots of informaiton, held online chats, provided clear and helpful financial aid info, I felt I had to squeeze it out of Georgetown. This is understandable for a small program, but I realized that's not what I wanted for the next two years. Lastly, even though I would love to study democracy all day long, the broader degree and curriculum at SAIS would be advantageous for future careers should foreign aid continue to be put on the chopping block.
    Advice for Future Applicants:
    - Work Experience. I would say really focus on the WORK part of that phrase. Volunteering is good, teaching English in a foreign country is good, interning is good, but try to secure a full-time, staff position with increasing responsibility and promotions before you go to grad school. You will be able to speak articulately about your field and you will increase your chances of acceptance. If you are moving to DC after undergrad graduation, the job market is tough- take an unpaid internship (I did without financial support of my parents, worked in a coffee shop for 3 months while interning), or an admin job sort-of related to your field to get a foot in the door. You'll work your way up quickly. Others may disagree, but I really think there is no substitute for working in a full-time permanent position.
    - International experience. Get you some! No, study abroad doesn't count, everyone has that
    - SOPs. A lot of people say to write about your goals + their school = where you want to be, but I took a slightly different approach. I included analysis of the democracy landscape through an illustrative anecdote, what needed improving, and how I needed a degree from THEIR school to positively effect that change. I emphasized why I wanted them, not just a general IR degree, and why they should invest in *me*. I think this underscored my understanding of my sector beyond just 'I want to do this work' and that I really understood what made them and their degree unique
    - GREs. Nail them. I didn't put enough time into it and wish I had. They could have helped with scholarship money and definitely put me on the edge because of my fine-but-not-amazing GPA.

    Thanks to everyone at Grad Cafe for your sage advice and support over the past few months. I am so grateful! Good luck to future applicants
  11. Downvote
    charlotte_asia reacted to MYRNIST in Wrapping It All Up: Government Affairs 2012 -- Final Decisions!   
    Previous Schools:University of Michigan

    Previous Degrees and GPAs: Double major in Political Science and Russian Studies. 3.8 GPA.

    GRE Scores: V 800 / Q 770 / AW 4.5

    Previous Work Experience: 2 years (by fall 2012, when school starts). 1 year unrelated corporate stuff, 1 year teaching English in China, multiple analytical internships throughout both years. I assume we're not counting undergraduate stuff, because I did a boatload of IR-relevant things then as well.

    Math/Econ Background: Stats, Micro, Macro, some data modeling courses

    Foreign Language Background: Russian (professionally fluent), Mandarin Chinese (intermediate)

    Intended Field of Study in Grad School: Security Studies

    Schools Applied to & Results: Princeton WWS MPA (rejected), Yale Jackson MA (rejected), Georgetown MA Security Studies (rejected), Tufts Fletcher MALD (accepted + $), SAIS MA Strategic Studies (accepted + $), Pittsburgh GSPIA MA Security + Intelligence Studies (accepted + $), GW Elliot MA Security Policy Studies (accepted + $)

    Ultimate Decision & Why: GW Elliott. Why? I got a full ride + stipend to go there. It has a dedicated Security Policy Studies degree, which is more in line with my interests and goals than a generalist IR degree. It's in DC. Literally the only option that could have competed with GW would have been a fully-funded Georgetown admit, which didn't happen (not even close, haha). Very easy decision.

    Advice for Future Applicants: Get started early (like a year ahead of time). The more time you allow yourself to research your schools, get recommenders, polish your SOP, and double-check that all admission materials have been received, the better your chances are.

    On that note, double-check EVERYTHING - GRE scores received by university, transcripts received, pre-reqs met, recommenders submitted their stuff, fin-aid deadlines, etc. Then triple-check it. There are horror stories of people on this forum whose stuff got lost, and application thrown out. As much as you care about your application, the people handling it (low-level university functionaries, often recent grads) do not. I highly recommend making a spreadsheet to keep track of all this stuff.

    Bust your butt studying for the GRE. There really is no reason not to. It's a highly masterable test - all it measures is your ability to prepare for the questions they ask. Based on an admittedly small sample size of 1, it makes you more competitive for fin-aid. I got significant funding at every school I was admitted to (including several full rides), and I think the GRE was a major part of this.

    Get work experience before you apply. Get work experience before you apply. Get work experience before you apply. Ge... okay I'll stop now, but based on what admission representatives have said, and the admission results of people on this forum, WE is a vital part of your package. Don't neglect it. It doesn't have to be 100% relevant (if you were already doing what you wanted to, why would you want to leave the field to go to grad school), but it should improve your skill set in some way. Could be foreign language, could be budgeting + management, whatever.

    Spend at least 100 hours on your SOP. Preferably more. Write them, polish them, have others edit them, personalize them to each school. Show your commitment to the field by highlighting relevant experiences, instead of telling them about it.

    I personally found it very useful to make every sentence in my SOP belong to one of three baskets.

    1) What you have already accomplished and why. My work at Alphacorp directly engaged my interest in international development. Experiences like managing a project to create accessible drinking wells in drought-ridden areas of Mali confirmed my belief that public service, not fame or riches, must be the axis of my career.
    2) What you want to do in the future and why. Although my work in the field was invaluable education in the realities of international development, it also left me wanting more. Creating high-level policy would allow me to address more of the issues facing Mali than working in the field. I want to transition from a practitioner to a planner in order to create widespread change.
    3) How University X will SPECIFICALLY build upon past experiences (point #1), and prepare you to achieve your future goals (point #2) University X's curriculum closely matches my professional plan. Development-focused classes such as X and Y will give me a more focused and relevant education than a generalist degree. I particularly relish the chance to work with Professor John Doe, whose experience leading the Africa section of USAID is exactly the sort of career I hope to achieve.

    No stories about when you were 8 and how thuper thuper passionate you have been about the field since then.
    No hokey inspirational quotes ("excellence is a habit, not a virtue...").
    No "Webster's Dictionary says 'public service' has this meaning but really I think it's this."

    Where you've been, where you want to go, how University X will get you from point A to point B. That's it.
  12. Upvote
    charlotte_asia reacted to delight in How much loan is too much?   
    Maybe you should seek advice from people who are less cynical about degrees in humanities! Having an undergraduate degree in art, I know plenty of people who pull out $50,000 a year for their MFA degrees - not abnormal to see people with $200,000 to eventually get a masters. Definitely not a pragmatic approach, considering that your life quality will be severely hampered by your loans after graduation. HOWEVER, if you're considering non-profit work in museums, federal loans have a 10 year forgiveness plan. You can get on an income-sensitive plan, pay for 10 years, and have the rest forgiven
  13. Upvote
    charlotte_asia reacted to acg in How much loan is too much?   
    You are absolutely right RosamundReage that there are different job placement records for different graduations! That is a fact. Unforunately you also said you do not see the point of doing graduate degrees in the humanities unless you have funding- which is not the point. The discussion is about someone who has already decided to go to graduate school and wants advice on taking out and managing loans. You are also correct that graduate school is very intense and requires time for research and conferences but I never said I recommend taking full time job on top of full time school (although I know several people who do it very successfully and I am currently at a top 25 research university in the US)- I simply said that working part time (I currently work 20 hrs/wk) is an imporant way to keep control on student loans. In fact, right now, I have no debt and already paid off the small loan I took out in my first year of graduate school.

    Another way to keep control on these loans is to pay them before they are actually due (since many student loans don't have to be paid until after graduation). If you pay down your balance while still in school it is not a very large burden (regardless of your future job) especially for a loan that is only 15-18k. If you're taking out 300k then that is a very different financial situation. These are just my experiences with taking out loans in undergrad and grad school and I wanted to share but obviously everyone does things differently.

    Good luck with grad school and your loan decisions ruru107
  14. Downvote
    charlotte_asia reacted to MYRNIST in Employment Prospects- MPP   
    If you don't think even graduates of the two most elite schools on the planet should pursue consulting, who exactly do you think should? Martians?

    I agree with your general point (that it's a tough field to get into), but guess what, thousands of people do every single year. It's consulting, not the freaking Illuminati. You got in. JAubrey got in. I can name 5 different friends who got in, and most of them went to considerably less prestigious schools than Harvard and Princeton. Up and out means there are constant openings.

    Your statements about not taking on massive debt for a MPP/MPA degree are, IMO, completely correct regardless of your career path. I think OP would be a fool to take on big debt for grad school.

    But you really don't need to act like consulting is some completely unreachable goal even for elite applicants. Especially since my spider-sense tells me the reason you adopt this condescending jackass persona and hype up the difficulty is mostly to stroke your own ego. OP, even a 1600/4.0 Ivy grad applying for consulting will get boiling coffee hurled in their face and forcibly removed from the building. It's a secret society only accessible by superhuman paragons of awesome... LIKE MYSELF! Did I mention I worked in consulting? Oh, like 6 times? Whatever, talking down to people on the Internet gives me such a diamond cutter.
  15. Downvote
    charlotte_asia reacted to MYRNIST in Official Admitted Thread   
    Just waiting on Georgetown SFS now. Get on with it already, ad-com!
  16. Upvote
    charlotte_asia reacted to ANDS! in How do we reject the schools and POIs?   
    Well then by all means, craft personalized emails for these instructors you have had these substantive conversations with who I am quite sure will remember you in 5 or 10 years.
  17. Upvote
    charlotte_asia reacted to habanero in After experiencing some really awful behavior, I can no longer be a member of this forum   
    After I began to get single negative downvotes on random old posts ( etc). I dropped around ~10 positive votes in 1 day without posting any new information. Many of the downvotes have been on highly-rated old posts in very inactive threads. I, of course, don't mind people expressing their opinions--but I don't feel like that is the case here. Right after the linked thread ended, the negative user began voting down all of my new comments obsessively. I spoke to a mod, but they said that they were unable to do anything about it. I stopped caring, but I can't ignore it after logging in today and seeing that the user has gone so far back. I've tried hard to be a positive member of this forum, but it is impossible when a user is systematically stalking my posts. It's taking an emotional toll on me. It might be silly to want to rack up positive votes on an internet forum, but I don't care. If this kind of behavior were going on in real life, I'd be getting a restraining order.


    To the rest of the awesome posters on here: thanks for everything. Best of luck in graduate school! Don't say anything to make that user upset, or they might do the same thing to you.
  18. Upvote
    charlotte_asia got a reaction from nouveau.ukiyo in JHU SAIS   
    SAIS2013, thanks for taking the time to share a thorough, thoughtful response!

    I have one additional question--

    Something that appeals to me about the Georgetown curriculum is the opportunity to take very practical policy courses at GPPI to complement the more theoretical courses in MSFS and Government. (Some may disagree with me that SFS is theoretical, but I think in comparison to public policy classes, most IR courses are.) The GWU curriculum too contains a number of management and policymaking classes that seem more practical than IR/theory courses

    My perusing through the course listings on ISIS suggest to me that outside the economics curriculum, SAIS tends to be more IR/theoretical with few public policy/technical classes (aside from a few that give preference to MIPP candidates). This makes sense, as SAIS is an International Affairs school, not a public policy school. I just want to better understand the nature of the classes I would be taking versus what I would take at Georgetown.

    Would you agree or disagree with my understanding of the curriculum?
  19. Upvote
    charlotte_asia got a reaction from MYRNIST in Housing for MSFS / SAIS students   
    I have posted this on another thread, but I disagree that you can't do $700/month with roommates. I lived with 2 roommates in Cap Hill/H Street and paid $700/month (without utilities) for a huge house. I have many friends who lived around Petworth/Georgia Avenue/Columbia Heights/NY Ave, etc who live in group homes and pay $700 or less per month.

    It is definitely possible to pay under $700, but you will sacrifice either a) proximity to a Metro station or proximity to a more-traveled on line (such as Blue or Red) living in a quieter house with few roommates (I have heard of people paying $600/month and living with 3-4 other people) and/or d) upscale/safer neighborhood. I never minded living in the more "dodgy" parts of Capitol Hill, but I did try to ride my bike or take the bus home if I was heading back late at night. Many areas of DC, regardless of how "nice" they are, carry some risk for females walking alone at night. Minimizing the distance to your nearest bus stand, Metro stop, etc are ways to reduce this risk and give you an option for late-night home travel.

    disitingrate, are you looking at literally sharing bedrooms with other people (4 people in a 2BR apartment)? I doubt you will find others willing to do that.

    Personally, I HATE switching Metro lines. Living on the same line that I work/go to school on is very important for quality of life, I think. I would rather have a 40 minute metro commute on one line than have to switch lines. It's much easier for three reasons. First, I prefer to sit down and read/listen to a podcast for an extended period of time rather than hop on one train for 10 minutes, get off, switch platforms, wait, and get on another for 10 minutes. Second, track work on metros in DC is common, and relying on two lines to get to work increases your chance of getting caught in a delay, station closure, or other frustration. Third, the metro runs only every 10-20 minutes late at night. It's incredibly frustrating to wait on a platform for 15 minutes for your train, only to have to switch stations a few minutes later and possibly wait another 10 or so minutes. Just my thoughts

    MYRNIST, I agree with a previous poster that anywhere near a metro station is going to be geared more towards younger professionals. Family/suburban neighborhoods usually have cars and single-family homes, whereas apartment complexes are crowded around Metro stations. If you live in Rosslyn you actually may be able to walk to Foggy Bottom, which I think would be terrific.

    For those of you looking at NoVa, remember that taxes in Virginia are different (I believe higher?) than those in DC- just something to consider when you're looking at cost.
  20. Upvote
    charlotte_asia got a reaction from DualCitizenIR in The Fletcher MALD Thread Spring/Fall 2012   
    I get what you meant, cannotdecide! And I agree that it's interesting to see folks accepted at one place, rejected/wl at another, other folks the opposite, etc. Just goes to show all of these schools are competitive and all of us should be quite proud of what looks like a great admissions season on gradcafe
  21. Downvote
    charlotte_asia reacted to MYRNIST in Official HKS Thread   
    The financial predicament many of you are facing is exactly why I didn't apply to HKS, despite really liking some of the faculty and courses. They are pretty open about stiffing people on fin-aid, which rules them out for me as my career is not that lucrative. I'm bored at work and made this to sum it up.
  22. Upvote
    charlotte_asia reacted to leapoffaith in Official HKS Thread   
    i got no money. i bought a lottery ticket.
  23. Upvote
    charlotte_asia reacted to OregonGal in The elephant in the room: Taking on debt for IR   
    @Rose1

    Actually, according to my research that's not quite how it works. The PSLF program applies to federal loans; however, you can probably cover the costs beyond the Direct (Stafford) loan with Graduate PLUS loans--also from the government. That's because as long as the PLUS loans are in your name (as opposed to the Parent PLUS loans, in the name of your parents) you can consolidate them with other federal Direct loans, and that consolidation loan is PSLF eligible. Grad PLUS loans cover total COA above Direct loans, and I don't think you can max those out. The downside is that they have a higher interest rate (7.9% currently) so when you consolidate with a 6.8% smaller loan your interest ends up around 7.2% for the consolidated loan. I linked earlier to my spreadsheet covering cost comparisons; the second tab of that spreadsheet is a breakdown of repayment costs over various periods and at various incomes.

    The caveat is that those are only available to US citizens AFAIK; however, the gist is that the government is moving away from private student loans backed by the government, and towards supplying those loans directly since they're assuming the risk for the loans anyways.
  24. Upvote
    charlotte_asia got a reaction from skeedy in MPA/MPP/IR 2012 Applicants   
    All of my decisions are in, so I'll finally post this. Reading these helped a lot when I applied so I will provide as much as I can in hopes that this can help others:

    Program Applied To (MPA, MPP, IR, etc.): IR, MPA
    Schools Applied To: GWU-Elliot, American- SIS, Tufts-Fletcher, Princeton- WWS, Georgetown- Government, Johns Hopkins- SAIS
    Schools Admitted To: All except Princeton
    Schools Rejected From: WWS
    Still Waiting:

    Undergraduate institution: Top 10 LAC
    Undergraduate GPA: 3.38 (~3.7 major)
    Undergraduate Major: Political Science, South Asian Studies
    Last 60 hours of undergraduate GPA: 3.6

    GRE Quantitative Score: 690 (94%)
    GRE Verbal Score: 640 (56%)
    GRE AW Score: 4.5 (72%)

    Years Out of Undergrad (if applicable): 3.5 when applied
    Years of Work Experience: 3.5 (as in, real work experience, not counting summer internships in college)
    Describe Relevant Work Experience: .5 years in Southeast Asia doing microfinance, 2 years with progressive experience at international human rights/democracy NGO, 1 year freelance/consulting in South Asia for human rights/democracy NGOs, contributor to major international democracy review.

    Languages: English (native), Spanish (intermediate)

    Quant:Intro to Econ (oped to pass/fail it-- passed it), realized that was a mistake if I wanted to go to grad school, took International Political Economics, Statistics/Methods of Political Science my junior year (B+s in both), took Micro and Macro after graduation at night school (As in both)

    Strength of SOP: I know some feel they inflate the quality of their SOP, and if they think that about my self- analysis then so be it.But it was really, really strong and it's what made me stand out amid my fine-but-not-outstanding GRE and GPA.

    I wrote about my passion for democracy work, included an overall vision I have for the field and my role in it. My SOP tied my application together-- where I have been in the democracy field and where I want to go... and more importantly, how I wanted to positively improve my field and why I needed X Grad School to do that.

    I wrote a separate SOP for each school, and I wrote very specifically about that school's comparative advantage and why me + that school = a public servant with leadership and contribution to my field. I wrote what I would do with my degree from X Grad School- why investing in me was good for them. I started writing in October and revised each (as in, fully revised drafts, not just edits) upwards of 9 times. My fiance, an MPP grad, reviewed all multiple times and provided harsh (and helpful) feedback. Other friends edited as well.

    Strength of LOR (be honest, describe the process, etc): 1 professor from undergrad who advised my thesis on democracy, 2 supervisors from work- one who could speak to my analytic abilities and one who could speak to my programmatic/management/democracy expertise. The latter was outstanding (in part because the referrer is an outstanding LOR writer), the other two would have been strong.

    Other: My application told a very clear story: commitment to the field of democracy/governance/human rights. I have been passionate about this topic since I was a junior in undergrad and made this clear. I knew exactly what I wanted to do, not just career-wise, but the impact I wanted to make on my field, the specific ways I wanted to contribute to it and improve it.

    I spent a LOT of time on my supplemental essays for SAIS, WWS, and Fletcher. Took a lot of time revising my undergrad paper for my 20-page writing sample from Georgetown. It's my one chance to show them I am actually a strong writer (damn the GREs) so I did it. Took several months to work on all of them.

    My GPA was "fine" and my GREs were "fine." It was my work experience and my SOPs which made me stand out. I have always firmly believed these are the most important parts of the application- to prove you have thrived in your field and that grad school would enable you to continue that impact.
  25. Upvote
    charlotte_asia reacted to rose1 in SIPA (Columbia) Thread   
    erry, go to SIPA! "grad cafe told me to" is the worst reason I've ever heard for not going to your top choice school. We're all a bunch of clueless prospective students. Call the admissions office and ask to speak with some current students. Ask questions to your hearts content. Demand that they convince you SIPA is the place for you. Then move to NYC and never look back. Give the UN building a salute for me.
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